Hampered most by a weakened bullpen early in 2014, the Detroit Tigers made a move to improve things official on Friday, signing rehabbing reliever Joel Hanrahan, formally of the Boston Red Sox, to a one-year deal.
"We're very happy he joined us," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a conference call. "It's well worth the gamble for us, he's an established pitcher that can pitch at the end of the game."
Don't expect Hanrahan to appear soon, however. Rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Detroit will send their new reliever to the disabled list so he can begin a stint in Lakeland. Dombrowski said the team plans to take it slow with Hanrahan, and both he and his agent Larry Reynolds stressed the need for patience. It's likely that Hanrahan will not arrive in Detroit until June at the earliest, though nobody was willing to put down a definitive date.
Coming off surgery, Hanrahan said he feels good in his rehab process, can throw a slider again, is gaining velocity with more sessions he throws and is looking forward to facing hitters. Though other teams were interested in his services and perhaps dangling a closing role, the move to choose the Tigers became easy in the end thanks to Detroit's team and a comfortable environment.
"I had a good recruiter in Torii Hunter," Hanrahan admitted. "I'm definitely excited to be a part of the Tigers. I kind of had them pinpointed. It came down to this is where I wanted to be. Great atmosphere from talking to Torii."
As part of his one year deal, Hanrahan will earn $1 million dollars, and have the chance to earn as much as $3 million. It's a small price to pay for Detroit if Hanrahan is able to cure what ails the Tigers' bullpen over the summer months. Over the first few months, Detroit has maintained the highest bullpen ERA in the American League, with several messy outings.
Historically, Hanrahan has been a hard thrower capable of getting important strikeouts. From that standpoint, he fits in with the Tigers, who have long preached that mantra. The team will hope he can match or lower his career 3.85 ERA while showing the form that helped him get elected to the 2011 and 2012 All-Star game with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tigers will now watch Hanrahan recover with a hopeful eye fixed on what he might provide the team in the near future.
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